Net prophet: online software success

If you doubt the power of the Internet to transform business, just talk to Jim Luty. The president of Innovative Software (http://www.innovativesoftware.com), in Wisconsin. Luty used the global reach of the Internet to take his business from zero to $US2 million in monthly revenues in less than two years.

A former firefighter and police officer, Luty has been in the computer industry since the early 1980s. He describes himself as "half-tech, half-salesman".

Luty was technical enough to recognise the value of a program for quickly copying hard drives when a friend showed it to him in June 1996. Luty figured this utility, called Ghost, would be extremely useful to anyone who had to install Windows 95 on more than a few machines at once. You could install everything you needed on one hard drive, then create an exact replica on a second system in just a few minutes.

Luty contacted the developer of Ghost, Murray Haszard, in New Zealand. In short order, Luty was reselling Ghost from the back of his house.

At first, Luty tried to drum up interest on CompuServe, without much success. So he checked out the Internet. He stumbled onto Usenet search engine Deja News (http://www.dejanews.com), where he found many people asking how to install Windows 95 onto multiple systems quickly and easily.

Luty built a simple Web page describing Ghost, including a demo version of the program for people to download, and then posted a seed message to the newsgroup where he had seen the questions asked, directing folks to his brand-new site.

Then the phone started ringing. IT managers around the world had a need for Ghost, and Luty had found a way to reach them. By September 1996, Luty was generating $20,000 per month in revenue, with customers as far apart as Honda of Canada, a Tasmanian police department, and Harvard University.

When Haszard decided to go back to developing full-time, he turned over his retail operation to Luty, who hired a couple of salespeople and moved into a 500-square-foot office space in November. By the end of the first month, Innovative Software had done $200,000 in sales.

"I was like that guy in Jaws where he looks at the shark and says, `I think we need a bigger boat,' " Luty recalls.

Currently, Innovative Software gets 1200 phone calls and an equal number of downloads every day from its Web site. Ghost is used by 55 per cent of Fortune 500 companies and many other organisations. Luty himself is now worth $10 million.

The Internet was and is a critical component of Innovative's business strategy.

"The typical tech is going to turn to the Net if he needs a quick answer," Luty said.

By planting seed questions in Usenet newsgroups, and by maintaining an information-rich Web site where people can download the program, Innovative Software ensures that its product reaches the right audience.

"If you took away my Web pages tomorrow, my revenue would probably diminish down to nothing in about two months," Luty said.

Sometimes Luty still can't believe how well his strategy has worked. At a recent meeting in the Bahamas with his eight international distributors, he marvelled at his good fortune.

"I can't believe I'm sitting here in the Bahamas," Luty remembers saying.

From Usenet to the Bahamas -- not a bad trajectory for two years of I-commerce.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?